Training for the Speed Project - week three

Training for the Speed Project - week three

I’ve had two big things on my mind when it comes to my training this week - nutrition and recovery. Nutrition is something I find really intimidating, simply because it’s so far outside my realm of knowledge and there’s loads of conflicting information about. I spent Saturday scurrying around the National Running Show trying to understand all the options out there, but I have no idea what or who to trust, and it’s all a little overwhelming. I’m planning to do some serious research and testing over the next few weeks before I share more, so watch this space.

Recovery is something I’m better at, but given I’ve been a bit knackered lately, and the stop start nature of The Speed Project, it’s something I want to really nail. My two problem areas are soreness and fatigue. Seriously, today I feel a bit like I’ve been hit by a truck, especially around my hip flexors and the soles of my feet. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have to be like this, and I’m pretty sure that a decent recovery strategy would help a lot.

A Pretty Place to Play - Training for The Speed Project, week Three

soreness

yoga and mobility

This is why I keep a training log, because looking back I can see that during weeks where I’ve practiced consistently I’ve been much less sore and stiff. Totally logical, but so easily overlooked and a good reminder to make time for myself on the mat because my body and my mind will benefit.

One of the effects of not being consistent in my practice is that I’ve noticed more soreness in my calves during my runs. My calves are a real trigger point for me and a part of my body that I really need to look after. After all sorts of experiments I know that a good warm up focused on mobility makes a big difference to me. Yes it’s a bit dull, but it’s better than having to quit a run because my calves hurt like hell.

pulseroller

I hate foam rolling and I’m terrible at remembering to do it, but I know that when I do put the effort in I see results. The best routine for me is to roll before I run and then to have a few independent sessions with my roller each week. I don’t always do this and sometimes my technique is terrible so at The National Running Show last weekend I took the plunge and invested in a Pulseroller. I’ve been eying up these vibrating wonder tools for awhile, but they are not cheap so I wanted to make sure the investment would be worth it. Turns out trying one out last weekend was all it took to get me to part with my cash. I’m really looking forward to seeing what difference the Pulseroller makes to my recover, even after one use I’ve noticed my calves are much less tight, which bodes well.

epsom salts and magnesium

I love a bath and back before Christmas Vie Healthcare sent me a huge bag of their Epsom Salts to help my body recover from everything I put it through. In water Epsom Salts break down into magnesium and sulphate which are absorbed through your skin and, alongside the joy of wallowing in warm water, can help relax muscles and loosen stiff joints. I like to add a drop or two of essential oils to make everything a bit more luxurious, but I’ve been out of salts for a few weeks and I have noticed everything is tighter, so probably time to reinvest.

Training for the Speed Project week three - A Pretty Place to Play

fatigue

rest

Rest is so important to me as even when I’m not training I do suffer from low energy and fatigue. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but it is possibly linked to anxiety disorder and the medication I take to manage my condition, both of which can mean my sleep is disrupted. I also get tired more quickly because it takes quite a lot of effort for me to deal with very stimulating situations (after The Running Show I was exhausted simply because it was so full on!) and also to concentrate for long periods of time. Although I’ve got better at managing these things with time (including developing a strong sense of NFOMO - no fear of missing out) as my training load ramps up I need to be more careful and even more focused on making sure I get enough rest and avoid too much stimulation. So more naps for me!

nutrition

I really believe that if I want to perform I need to make sure that my body is getting what it needs, before, during and after my training. Discussing this with my coaches we already know I’ve not been taking on enough calories during my runs and I’m now exploring what fuel might work for me (I’ve got a few ideas I’m testing out - will share more later!). Mike and I have also recently changed our diet a bit as we’ve stopped eating meat. This is taking a bit of getting used to and we’re having to work quite hard to make sure we’re eating a balanced diet and that I’m getting enough of the right sort of calories. It’s all a bit trial and error so far, but I’m sure it’ll come together and I’ll share more when it does!


When I’ve not been thinking about nutrition and recovery I’ve been dealing with the first week of a new term at university. Everyone comes back off the break all fired up and keen to put plans into action, or at least talk about putting plans into action. Which means I spent pretty much the whole week in meetings! As a result my training took a little bit of a knock - it’s that combination of stimulation and needing to concentrate again - but my pace is really picking up on my long runs and my speed work is pushing me in the most painful and enjoyable way possible, which is amazing!


Monday - an hour pottering around London with Doris, the perfect way to recover from the weekend’s training.

Tuesday - more pottering around with Doris - probably need to remember that I’m training for a running event, not a cycling event!

Wednesday - REST DAY

Thursday - 50 minutes of intervals, 1 minute on 1 minute off with 15 minutes warm up and 15 minutes recovery. I love these sessions so much, they push me so hard and are total sweatfests, but they’re the sessions that change things. Also squeezed in a 20 minute upperbody workout.

Friday - REST DAY

Saturday - such high hopes of a hill session after The National Running Show, but I was exhausted and quickly fell in to a drooly sleep

Sunday - just shy of 9 sub-10 minute miles along the canal on the most beautiful day - exactly why I run!


If last week’s focus was recovery, I guess this week’s should be nutrition, which terrifies me. I know so little about this area, and it’s bound to be a bit of an adventure learning how to nourish my body better.  

Are you curious about how I’m training for the Speed Project? Is there anything you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do! In the meantime, you can read all my posts about this adventure here.

* Vie Healthcare kindly gifted me a bag of Epsom Salts, but all opinions are my own.

* images: Anna Rachel Photography

Training for the Speed Project - week two

Training for the Speed Project week two - A Pretty Place to Play, London running and fitness blog

Running has a way of keeping you humble. Last Sunday I ran just shy of 10 hilly miles at a really comfortable pace and felt amazing, last Tuesday I headed out with Charlie and the Westin team for a gentle 5km and within moments my calf had seized up. It was like there was a block wedged in there and I ended up having to walk a good portion of the run. Of course my ego took a pounding. There is nothing worse than being invited to a launch event because you are a runner and not being able to run. You feel like a total fraud and your ego really takes a pounding. I found myself wanting to scream ‘I can run, I can run’, but I pushed it aside (which took everything I had) and did the sensible thing, walked it out and jogged lightly - with just over two months until The Speed Project I can’t take risks with my body.

Texting with my coaches we decided I’d rest up and go for acupuncture as soon as possible. Acupuncture is something I’d been curious about for a long time, I knew loads of people who’d found it really beneficial and weirdly I was pretty excited to get some pins stuck in me! I was warned at the outset that acupuncture is a bit like marmite - you’re either in to it or you’re not. I’m in to it. With the exception of one sticky point in my ankle (loads of scar tissue from previous injuries and the needle just wouldn’t go in) the whole process was totally painless and so relaxing that I fell asleep! Plus it really eased up the discomfort in my calf. On the advice of the therapist Tracy I took the next 48 hours off, rested up and then tested my leg with 20 minutes on soft muddle trails on Friday. My legs were a little stiff, but no more that they’d normally be after a few days off, and I think the combination of acupuncture, rest and foam rolling/glut activation before I ran really did the trick. So much so by Sunday I smashed out over 8 miles without any problems beyond heavy legs. Winning.

Training for the Speed Project - week two - A Pretty Place to Play, London running and fitness blog

My focus for this week was CONSISTENCY. Training consistently, consistently eating well and getting consistent rest alongside listening to my body and adapting where I need to. This week I really feel like I did that. No I didn’t do much training in the conventional sense, but I did listen to my body consistently and gave it what it needed, which I think is just as (if not more) important.


Friday - REST DAY

Saturday - over an hour of intervals on the treadmill - a touch but enjoyable session, but I had a little niggle (I had to swap out my trainers because my usual ones were too muddy to wear in the gym!)

Sunday - 10 easy hilly miles which felt tough at points (expected due to the hills, but also because my fuelling wasn’t on point), but overall it was awesome!

Monday - REST DAY - it was Mike’s birthday so we hung out all day

Tuesday - 8 miles pottering around town with Doris and a run with RunWestin London City - this is where all the problems started, my calves haven’t felt this tight in a LONG time.

Wednesday - 2 gentle miles with Doris to my acupuncture appointment (on the advice of my therapist we got the tube home - the beauty of having a folding bike!)

Thursday - REST DAY

Friday - two easy test miles on soft muddy trails - my legs felt heavy, but no worse than they would normally feel after a few days off

Saturday - REST DAY - so tired today! In part it was the wine I drank on Friday night, but I’d also been having a few post-concussion side-effects so was mega lethargic. Literally spent all day in a heap.

Sunday - 8.5 easy miles on flat which felt good. It was a little stop start (I had to run errands, literally ran in to Superdrug to pick up vitamins!), but overall I was pretty happy with it. I spent the evening unwinding with a beautiful yoga nidra class at Fierce Grace Brixton.


Each week I like to set out my focus for the next week. Reflecting on the problems I’ve had with my calves RECOVERY is going to be this week’s focus. Being able to recover between legs is going to be key when I’m out in the desert, so I’m going to be hitting up all the experts I know for advice and really working on looking after my body so it can recover as efficiently as possible.

 Are you curious about how I’m training for the Speed Project? Is there anything you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do! In the meantime, you can read all my posts about this adventure here.

* I am an ambassador for Fierce Grace Brixton, but all opinions are my own.

** I was invited along to the launch of RunWESTIN London City, but all opinions are my own

*** images Alex Dixon Photography

Are Runners Pedestrians?

Are Runners Pedestrians? - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Last week I was chatting with someone on Twitter about the relationship between runners and walkers in parks. The person I was speaking to (tweeting to?) had been bemoaning the runners who career around the park yelling at walkers to get out the way, especially during Park Run. I could see where they were coming from, some runners can be aggressive and self-centred but it’s the minority, but sometime walkers (and dogs, and bikes, and children) can be unpredictable. There’ve definitely been times when someone has walked in front of me or changed direction suddenly and it’s not always easy to navigate around them and I have shouted a quick ‘watch out’. I don’t see anything wrong about this, communication is important in shared spaces and I really would rather shout than run into someone because I don’t have time to stop/move when they’ve appeared out of nowhere. However, the person I was chatting to was very much of the opinion it’s a runner’s responsibility to accommodate walkers at any cost, this was not a shared space with shared responsibilities. Runners were not pedestrians, and as such walkers had the right of way and runners should be limited to park speed limits (5mph).

Personally I’ve always assumed a pedestrian was anyone travelling on their own two feet. Runner, walker we are all the same, sharing the same space. In my mind runners had a responsibility to look out for other pedestrians and vice versa, I’d never thought that runners might not be pedestrians. So I thought I’d look into this claim. Digging around the internet I couldn’t find anything that suggested definitively whether a runner was a pedestrian or not. There was a general consensus that, as far as possible, runners should give way to walkers - something I totally agree with - and this article from The Guardian which considered some interesting research from Plymouth University about the interactions between runners and walkers in terms of both values and actions. Simon, who wrote this article, is an urban geographer with an interest in running and run-commuting (another fascinating run nerd!), and I found it interesting how he talks about hierarchies, how runners interact with urban spaces and the accommodations that runners make for pedestrians. Essentially cities aren’t designed for runners, so we have to adapt, and because of the pedestrian hierarchy which priorities walkers culturally (which is arguably reflected in some of the more negative responses to runners which Charlie chats about here).

Are Runners Pedestrians? - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

While many runners might see places like parks as shared spaces it seems fairly clear that this isn’t the broader consensus, and while there’s nothing to say that runners aren’t pedestrians, society definitely gears priority towards walkers. This isn’t likely to change any time soon, so what can runners do to avoid animosity with walkers?

give way

You should always try to give way to walkers if you possibly can. Try to make eye contact to suss out their intentions, a friendly smile helps and if you can bring your pace down a touch and give a wide berth so you don’t startle anyone.

remember where you’re running

OK, it seems obvious, but try to remember that a park isn’t a running track. You’re sharing space with lots of other people (runners and walkers) and it’s only polite to be considerate. Most of the time there’s no need to run like you stole something, so don’t.

take out your headphones (or at least lower the volume)

Part of sharing space responsibly is being aware of what’s going on around you, and listening is a huge part of that. Ditch the noise cancelling headphones, turn down the volume or try running without the cans full stop (anyone else call headphones cans, or is it just my Dad?) so you can hear what’s going on around you and respond to it if you need to.

get on the treadmill

I’m not saying do all your workouts on the treadmill, that would be so dull and isn’t necessarily the best race prep, but if you want to do some very fast flat out runs then the treadmill can be your friend. I do my weekly interval sessions in the gym and really love it, getting on the treadmill encourages me to really push myself and I find it much easier to switch up and down the gears. It also means that I’m not trying to dodge other park users while also trying to push my limits, a balance that is really tricky to strike.

be polite

It goes without saying, but if another park user makes way for you then smile, say thank you and generally be a decent person. Likewise, if there’s a group crowding the path in front of you I think it’s ok to slow and politely ask if you can slip past, following up with a genuine thank you afterwards.

Are Runners Pedestrians? - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

There’s a fair amount of dislike for runners out there (this article really doesn’t paint us in the best light), but I really don’t think this is fair. Most runners are pretty considerate and are just trying to go about their day. I would love it if we could find a way to share space harmoniously with everyone else who uses parks and pavements, and I really don’t think divisive comments (or suggestions that the Park Run should be capped at 250 runners) help. For now I’m going to do my best to share the spaces where I run considerately and hope that everyone else does the same.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Are runner’s pedestrians? How do we find ways to share space with other park users? Let me know in the comments below…

*images: Anna Rachel Photography